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Portland Tribune

'I feel like it was our time tonight:' Parkrose football earns first win in two years

By Austin White,


For the first time in 1,360 days, Parkrose High School football can put down an OSAA official, on-field W in its win column.

Parkrose dominated Putnam on the road 47-0 on Friday, Sept. 22, scoring on nearly every single possession and adding in three turnovers and a punt return touchdown.

The Broncos have had a few wins in between, like two wins over Madison (now McDaniel) in the non-official 2020 season (played in spring of 2021). Their 31-26 win on April 9, 2021 was their last on-field win before Friday night. The last official win came in the 2021 season when La Salle Prep had to forfeit due to COVID on Sept. 17.

The win snaps an official 19-game losing streak for the Broncos dating back to their forfeit win, and marks the first win for third-year head coach Stephen Nesmith that came on the field leading the Broncos.

“It was absolutely amazing man, I think we’ve known as a group that we can do these things just, we’ve always had certain things that went wrong or one thing goes wrong, it brings down the whole team,” Broncos senior quarterback Kenji Johnson said. “But we finally put it together for four quarters, we finally were able to show what we really can do. And I’m really just proud of my guys, proud of my guys so much. I just want to go and celebrate with them.”

Parkrose dominated from start to finish, scoring on its opening drive thanks to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Zayne Parks.

Tauveli Iongi, normally a senior defensive lineman, was next in the scoring fun after getting in as running back and scoring a 4-yard TD run.

Next possession was a 63-yard TD pass from Johnson to DeVeontae Hillman, which was followed up by Corinthian Littleton returning a punt 55 yards for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead.

Johnson got the next score himself, taking a designed QB run to the right side, untouched for 56 yards and a 34-0 lead. Jelani Scott grabbed an interception on defense to give Parkrose the 34-0 lead at halftime and a running clock in the second half.

In the second half, Littleton picked up a 17-yard TD reception and an interception while Scott ran for a 48-yard TD to provide the 47-0 final score.

After the final buzzer sounded, it was a quick trip to the locker room to get the party started, and Nesmith took the aux cord and belted out a mini concert in front of his crew.

“I feel like it was our time tonight,” Nesmith said. “It’s finally starting to click. Week one, we lost by six. Week two, we lost by six. Week three, we took a little bit of a beating. But our guys are not quitting. That’s the biggest thing is that our guys are not quitting. And I feel like now that we got that win, I feel like we can take this momentum and get some conference wins.”

On a night filled with major contributions, Littleton’s efforts stood out the most with 30 yards receiving on two catches with the one TD, plus the punt return touchdown and interception.

As a sophomore, he’s an essential piece to the building blocks that Parkrose is trying to lay within its program.

“Corinthian Littleton is probably the best athlete in this conference,” Nesmith said. “I don’t know if there’s a corner in our conference that can cover him. He will be a Power 5 guy if these coaches start to notice Parkrose. This is a Power 5 kid for sure.”

“That is a dawg, I’ve known since last year since when he was on the scout team burning our starting DBs as a freshman,” Johnson said of Littleton. “He’s just different. I feel like you just know when there’s players like that. He’s one of those guys that really just has it.”

Parkrose feels like this team has that it-factor, and rightfully so after picking up the first win in two years for the program after a couple close calls to begin the 2023 season.

The 14 seniors that dot the Broncos roster have been through plenty of losing in the program, so a win no matter the score was a visible and emotional release to know the hard work is paying off.

“Hats off to the seniors,” Nesmith said. “These guys went through three coaches in their four- year tenure. They believed in me and my staff. They never quit on me. So it’s because of the seniors, hats off to the seniors.”

Not only has this moment been built by a senior class that’s stuck it out through the hard times, but a tight-knit community in the Parkrose continues to show out.

Nesmith, who comes from Pennsylvania, has been impressed with the Broncos community supporting the program.

“Parkrose is such a tight-knit, small community, but they’re mighty at the same time,” Nesmith said. “There’s nothing that Parkrose can’t accomplish when we all come together, as you can see by the football team. We have amazing support from our administration, our administration is behind us. We have amazing support from our community as well.”

Up next is homecoming, and Nesmith promises a raucous crowd on deck for that following the win over Putnam. The opponent will be 3-1 La Salle Prep to open up Special District 2 play.

The next step for the Broncos will be turning a win into a win streak, which Nesmith said starts by flushing the victory feeling on Monday.

However, for the first fall Friday night featuring a Parkrose win in four years, there’s plenty of time to do a little celebrating.

“We celebrate tonight by dancing, yelling, screaming and enjoying the win,” Nesmith said. “And then like I said, we flush this tomorrow. We got Little Bronco football, so now our little kids get to see the big kids win and we can just roll this. Now we’re gonna start rolling.”

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